Creating a Better Future for Software Developers

A recent LinkedIn report found that four out of five top emerging jobs for the coming year require a deep level of technical expertise, with the roles of blockchain developer, machine learning engineer and machine learning specialist leading the charge

While this shows that the tech sector is still a growing industry with lots of opportunities, when you also consider that in the U.S. alone, 1 million computer programming jobs will go unfilled by 2020, it also raises serious concerns around the sustainability of the industry.

We don’t have to look far from home to see the effects. The U.K. is a hub for technology, with some of the most innovative companies in the world choosing our shores to open class-leading research and development facilities. The problem is that colleges and universities simply can’t keep up with the demand for training new developers, resulting in many positions going unfilled.

This creates an environment where businesses can’t develop new technology as quickly as they would like because it is increasingly difficult to find and hold onto talent. Bearing in mind that with recruiter fees and other costs, it takes around £15,000 (on top of salary) and five months to hire and train single team member, traditional hiring is too slow and expensive in such a fast moving market.

If this talent shortage is left unaddressed, it will have a detrimental impact on the perception of the U.K. as a top spot for technological innovation. Without the skilled staff needed to fill roles, companies aren’t able to innovate quickly enough, and may well move into Europe in order to find the necessary talent — especially in the wake of Brexit.

Future-proofing the U.K. tech industry

Many organisations, concerned by the cost and time implications of direct hiring, are instead turning to outsourcing, but this isn’t a long term solution either. In fact, outsourcing agencies are facing the exact same issues as organisations with getting talented developers on their books. Partly due to the aforementioned lack of qualified computer science graduates, but also because these agencies aren’t offering enough remuneration to attract those at the top of their game.

It’s not just about money and perks either. The reason that freelancing is becoming popular in all industries, not just in the tech space, is because of the autonomy and flexibility associated with it. Outsourcing agencies aren’t able to guarantee the control and freedom that freelancers expect. In fact, in most cases, the talent’s needs are forgotten about as the client takes president. Ultimately, freelancers want to do what they love and be paid fairly for it but with long payment timescales and the bureaucracy associated with the industry as a whole, it quickly loses the attraction.

From a client perspective, outsourcing is also costly and time-consuming. It’s on clients to scroll through hundreds of potential freelancers, find the best fit, then pay and maintain the relationship. Instead of making the process easier for clients, it has the very real potential to take up more time than hiring a permanent employee.

What’s the solution?

As things stand, the demand for developers is only going to increase as technology continues to proliferate our daily lives. To create a sustainable labour model which can be scaled up and down based on demand, there needs to be a greater focus on building agile ways of working that suit both clients and talent.

A new ‘Elastic Teams’ model is growing in popularity. It’s a model that, by using AI, can easily assess an organisation’s project, quote in real time, find the right talent for the job (no matter where they are based) and then pay them the minute their job is complete. This removes the legwork associated with outsourcing and hiring permanent staff and ensures that any company, no matter how big or small, can scale their teams with high-quality developers.

The benefits for clients are tenfold, but working in this way is also attractive for developers. They know they will be remunerated fairly and on time for the work they deliver. They also know they are being put forward for the best jobs based on their ability and interests, giving them far more control over their workloads compared to previous models.

Taking on the talent shortage

While this isn’t a complete solution to solve the talent shortage, it does open up a global pool that organisations can tap into. Naturally, this increases the number of developers available, but it also means clients can work different time zones to their advantage, and see the outcomes of projects much faster than at present. This is without even mentioning the benefits of having a globally diverse team—especially for businesses who operate internationally.

The lack of skills available to drive technological change is causing strain on businesses across the globe, but if the U.K. wants to remain a leader in tech innovation, then its technical recruitment industry has to undergo an overhaul. It seems somewhat ironic that the software development industry hasn’t yet capitalised on the innovation it’s mastered so well for other industries. But, with recruitment models that embrace technology, such as Elastic Teams — it might not be far away.

About the Author

Callum Adamson is CEO at Distributed. Distributed allows companies to deliver digital outcomes faster, and to a higher standard than any comparable product through the use of an AI powered global workforce. That’s why we founded Distributed –